Pharmacists, and fulfilling prescriptions against that go against their moral beliefs

In the question of filling out prescriptions for birth control and so-called “abortion pills”, I have been firmly on the side that says that pharmacists should be required to fill any valid prescription regardless of their personal beliefs. As professionals licensed by the state, they can be held to such a standard.

But this thread has me reconsidering. It seems that certain drugs used in state-sanctioned executions are recently unavailable, and some states are turning to local pharmacies to fulfill what amount to “execution prescriptions”.

I wish I had a satisfying answer to this, as I am completely opposed to the death penalty. And I certainly believe that no one should be mandated to take part in an exection involuntarily. I can’t shake the belief that a pharmacist who prepares the execution drug is certainly an integral part of the process, and as such should be able to opt out.

Fortunately or not, I can conceive of a way to write the rules governing pharmacists that mandates them to provide contracetiptives and allow them to take a pass on exectution – that is, unless the rules contain a clear definition of what constitutes human life. And such a rules would never make it through the current political system to be adopted.

What’s your thinking on this? I’m not really clear enough on it myself to frame it as a clear-cut debate topic.

My own take is there is a difference between a company and its employees.

I believe a company should be free to make or not make drugs on its own (within appropriate legal parameters - obviously I don’t think a US pharmacy should be manufacturing and dispensing heroin or ecstasy).

So, if a pharmacy (and not one of its employee pharmacists) decides that it doesn’t want to dispense birth control or contraceptives, that’s fine as long as they make that the stated policy of the entire company. I will personally object to that policy and see if I can take my business elsewhere, but I think it’s their right to make that choice.

But I believe an employee has no right to object to fulfilling any prescriptions the company legally offers. Joe Random Clockpuncher can choose not to fill that prescription, by which he chooses not to do his job and face the consequences thereof (which I think should be firing).

Likewise, I don’t think an employee should be allowed, in his/her role as an employee of the pharmacy, to offer birth control meds or contraceptives if that goes against company policy.

Missed the edit window:

I should note that in the case of Death Penalty drugs, I can see why a pharmacist wouldn’t want to fulfill that order. It sucks, but the moral choice is to get your bosses to reconsider the fulfillment of that order and make it an official company policy or to quit your job (or wait to be fired or reprimanded). The problem is that there is no perfect world. We’d like for there to be a perfect world where everybody agrees with each other and moral quandaries are easily resolved and nobody faces recrimination or penalties, but that world doesn’t exist.

So it’s ok for a corporation to follow its “conscience” (which IMO it doesn’t have)but not an individual human being? And any human employees must subjugate their consciences to the corporate “conscience”?

IMO. if anything, you have it entirely backward.

Also, the licencse to dispense, and the rules about whether or not to dispense, rests in the hands of the licensed individuals, not the corporations.

‘CVS’ the store could have a policy to not fill certain types of prescriptions - and I have the riht to take my business elsewhere - the individual pharmacist should not have that right - the only role of the pharmacist these days is to answer questions and insure accuracy and (maybe) double check for interactions.

I go to my Doctor for the appropriate medical advice - I do not expect the pharmacist to do more than hand me my stuff.

Just guessing, but I imagine it may not be necessary to check for interactions with a lethal injection.

As I said before. the rules about whether prescription must be filled or can be declined are the responsibility of the licensed person, not their employer. The employer can choosed whether or not to stock certain drugs, which is also the subject of regulation, but that is a separate issue.

the rules in this case would be -

a) valid prescription (when required)
b) legal age, etc (when required)
c) any other legal rules as applies to the specific drug being requested

I am aware of no rules that specify “I disagree with the usage of said product” - there would be rules (maybe) about applicability of said product for a specific use - but here again, there are many ‘off book’ uses as well.

As for the ‘death penatly’ drugs - I have a hard time seeing the warden filling a prescription at the local CVS - but here again, if the request is legal, I cannot see a pharmacist being allowed to take a stand against it.

When did I say that?

The individual human being can follow his/her conscience. But that individual doesn’t have the right to drag other individuals (including the collective individuals that make up his employing company) into his personal moral quandary. The problem here is you expect that decision to have minimal consequences.

The individual pharmacist can defy standing company policy if it violates his/her conscience with the realization that loss of employment is a valid and likely result.

That’s what my followup post was about. The real quandary here is we expect people to be able to follow their morals but still keep their jobs and not otherwise affect anybody else. That’s not possible in the real world.

So, yeah, an individual is free to not fill orders for DP drugs. That may result in their unemployment. That sucks, but sometimes doing what is just and moral costs you personally. It’s unfair and I know that’s not something we experience so much these days, but life is unfair and we muddle by as best we can. Anybody telling you otherwise is selling you something.

ETA: If that individual was the company? Go nuts. They’re not dragging anybody else into their little fight. But once you are acting as a representative of a larger group, whether it is as employer or whatever, you should do your job. If there is a conflict between personal and private ethics, you need to resolve that with the realization there are consequences either way - either by violating your personal morals or by violating professional ethics. Sometimes you can’t get away without violating one or the other.

Pharmacists are allowed to refuse to fill any prescription for any reason.

As for this whole death penalty thing, no, they aren’t going to get the materials at CVS (it’s highly unlikely that a CVS would stock any of the items used in lethal injection anyway) because the drugs would come from the prison’s own pharmacy.

Yes, but they also have a duty to ensure patients who have valid prescriptions have a reasonable alternative to get their meds and likewise to inform their employer upfront that they will refuse to fill certain types of meds.

Not informing your employer upfront about such objections is a violation of professional ethics.

Another minor (but important) conflict between personal and private ethics is letting customers know where they can get alternatives if they ask. If they have a valid prescription for birth control meds, you can’t just obstruct their ability to get them. Your personal ethics may prevent you from filling it, but your professional duty is to let them know who in the area might. The legal question is just another layer on top.

ETA: Also, this is not quite right to begin with. The right of pharmicists to refuse is going to be state-dependent, and it’s not a settled question in every state yet.

Not quite. The state contracts with compounding pharmacies and the state distributes DP drugs to the execution sites.

A local pharmacy might actually stock some of the items. As mentioned in the other thread, propofol is being examined as an alternate DP drug, and it’s certainly stocked at normal pharmacies.

This is so full of wrong that I can’t find anything right.

Pharmacists in most states are required by law to fill any valid prescription. In recent years this has been changed in several states to allow pharmacists to “follow their conscience”, in most cases allowing them the right to refuse to fill prescriptions related to contraception.

And yes, pretty much any pharmacy would be able to fill a prescription for a lethal injection, because the drugs involved are common. It is the combination and dosages that make them lethal.

Finally, IF a jail or prison has a pharmacy, where do you think they get their supples? They order them from CVS or some other drug wholesaler, just like any other pharmacy.

We’ve had the discussion before and I am in the minority, although I support reproductive choice and am anti-death penalty.

But my view is that the owner of a pharmacy - whether a corporation or an individual - should be able to decide what drugs they will and will not supply, for whatever reason. Some like the OP may balk at providing drugs for execution; and some will have the same revulsion to providing abotificants.

A pharmacist employed at a pharmacy can certainly exercise his or her own freedom of conscience and refuse to fill any prescription, but should not expect their employment to be protected if they are contrary to the policies of their employer.

Apart from the distinction between what a company does and what its individual employees want to do:

Execution drugs do not have any “therapeutic” purpose. On the other hand, contraceptive and drugs to terminate pregnancies do have therapeutic efficacy (and a Conscience Pharmacist will not always know exactly what the latter class of drugs is intended for, unless he is psychic).

Also, a company refusing to sell drugs that obviously will be used for an execution is taking action that at least temporarily will lessen the chance of death. When Conscience Pharmacists refuse to dispense lawfully prescribed contraceptives or drugs that may be used in pregnancy termination, they arguably are increasing the chances of death for the patient (term pregnancies pose a significantly higher risk of death than early pregnancy termination), or increasing the chances of death for both the fetus and woman carrying it (if she’s forced to get an illegal abortion).

The moral and practical differences between the two situations seem clear enough to me, or as clear as one can expect when humans are involved.

Maybe not all of them, but in general, yes they do. They are common drugs that if given in the right combination and dosages, are lethal. But if not combined and given at lower dosages, they might be safely used as sedatives, muscle relaxants, etc. That’s why a state can turn to a 'regular" pharmacists – because the raw materials will be available.

I’m pro-life and anti-death penalti and i completely agree with what **Great Antibob **and **Skammer **said.
If your moral beliefs affect your employment or business opportunites, then you shoueld be free to exercise your beliefs AND face the consequences.
I fully support the right of any company that, while in compliance with the law, decides to stock or not certain products and may even agree that in some cases the should make it clear to their customers “we sell no pork products” we don’t carry Plan B".

If ypour job has the obvious potential of going against your belifs, then you should inform your emplyers to see if there is a solution, and in some cases there will only be a solution: bye- bye. You can’t keep kosher or halal (I presume) while working at Tony Roma’s.

My position remains consistent. I am pro-life with respect to abortion – that is, I oppose the legality of abortion – and I am pro-life with respect to the death penalty: I oppose it.

An individual pharmacist should have the legal right to refuse to fill a scrip that violates his conscience. His employer should have the legal right to fire him for refusing to fill prescriptions.

This is true if the substance in question is intended to kill an unborn human being, or a human being on death row.

And, Boyo Jim – can I gently point out that it appears to me that you’re not reasoning from principles here, but rather from preferred results? In other words, it seems (to me, at least) that you reached your first conclusion because you favored the dispensation of abortion-inducing medication on request. And you reached your present discomfort because you disfavored the death penalty?

I can see where you would say that. It’s not quite true, as my principle is that no one should be force to take part in killing a human being.

The problem is that you and I don’t agree as to what constitutes a human being. IMO, a prisoner facing execution is a human being and a fetus is not, or at least is not until some ill-defined state of development.

We as a society are not at a place where people on either side of this question can push through into law their own definition of what exactly is a human being. So it appears we face a dilemna (maybe it just appeas so to me, and not to others). If we force pharmacists to fill proscriptions regardless of their conscience, we may be forcing them to particiapte in executions of (indisputably) human beings. If we change the rules toallow them to exercise their conscience, we allow them to use their own definitions to fill or not any prescription for virtually any reason they can articulate.

Might want to ask Qadgop if prisons routinely utilize pentobarbital as a sleep aid for insomniac inmates or as a sedative for inmates undergoing surgery.

I doubt it.

This is sort of why we have laws and rules as a society - and should not allow a group of state-regulated individuals to make decisions affecting other people’s lives “for virtually any reason they can articulate”.

Snipped and bolded by me - how are they being ‘forced to take part’ ? are they administering the injections? are they force feeding the drugs to the patient? are they unable to seek employment elsewhere?

Since when is it the ‘responsibility’ of the pharmacist as to what I do with the prescription after it leaves their hands? I could be selling my drugs to a third party for profit - is the pharmacist responsible for that?